UN Says the Darknet Threatens WMD Proliferation
At a high level debate of the Security Council in June, the UN Under-Secretary-General of Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, expressed concerns regarding non-proliferation issues. She called for cooperation between member states in working towards the goal of weapons of mass destruction disarmament. One of the growing threats, she explained, was that of a non-state actors obtaining WMDs from the darknet.
The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (ODA) exists to facilitate the international disarmament of nuclear, chemical, and biological weaponry. It promotes the international disarmament of non-WMDs as well, although not to the extent of WMD elimination. The current was ODA established in the 1990s and non-state actors were less of a threat than state actors. The United States, for instance, was preparing for potential war with North Korea to cease North Korean nuclear weapon stockpiling.
Now, according to Izumi Nakamitsu, the threat that non-state parties pose is cause for concern. She said that globalization furthers development in many sectors, “it also allows for greater mobility of materials and technologies, as well as scientific discoveries and personnel with relevant expertise to use and exploit them with malicious intent.”
Some of the new areas of concern, explained by Nakamitsu:
“Emerging concerns include the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, 3D printing and the dark web. Also that that many of the technologies, goods and raw materials required to produce weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems are available through legitimate producers. This underlines the importance of international cooperation and dialogue with the private sector in tackling illicit trafficking routes so as to prevent terrorist actions.”
The concern was not first voiced at the June 2017 Security Council. A Resolution document from the Security Council at its 7837th meeting revealed the UN was “gravely concerned that non-State actors may acquire, develop, traffic in or use nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.” The non-State actors are using the “rapid advances in science, technology, and international commerce” to achieve their goals.
Following Resolution 1504, UN Member States must take action against non-State actors involved in proliferation. Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter requires that all States refrain from providing support to any of non-State threats. It more importantly requires States to create and enforce laws that render non-State actors unable to “manufacture, acquire, possess, develop, transport, transfer or use” weapons of mass destruction.
Despite the progress made in keeping these weapons from terrorists and other non-State actors, Nakamitsu said, their opposition evolved faster . She explained that the fight changed in the last decade; these actors “entered the cyberspace.” From there, alongside other non-State actors from across the globe, they used mediums such as the darknet to obtain necessary technology. Many groups, she added, demonstrated a working knowledge of these cyberspace “loopholes” and were interested in chemical warfare.
Representatives brought up the recent NotPetya cyberattack and the potential damage an attack like that could cause. NotPetya brought down the Chernobyl radiation monitoring systems and website. The last active nuclear power reactor shutdown in 2000, but radiation from the 1986 meltdown survived. Reactor four still emits more than 25 times the normal ambient radiation. For this and similar reasons, the government placed geiger counters throughout the location that warn of radiation spikes.
If the next attack caused more damage than NotPetya to a nuclear facility, the fallout could be far worse. Representatives agreed that a framework that included regulation for modern criminal activity.
Therefore, Nakamitsu proposed, “the international community must prosecute all those responsible for supporting terrorist actions.” She called for tighter regulations regarding dual use material and technologies; more focus on “enforcement” measures; international discussion on finances; and rules for national exportation and border control.